Category: Cost Per Serving (page 1 of 2)

Cost Per Serving: Improved 5 Ingredient Granola Bars

Usually I do the grocery shopping by myself. I have a routine and go every Sunday. But recently Marge decided to come along. And as I often do, I bought a box of granola bars. I always like to have a box of these in my desk at work for a snack. I know it’s not the healthiest, but I’m not big into other, healthier shelf stable snacks like plain nuts, and boxes of granola bars are so easy.

But Marge said, “Those can’t be good. You should try making them yourself.” And suddenly I had a revelation. I should try to make them myself! Why hadn’t I thought of that? I’ve probably eaten hundreds of granola bars of spurious nutrition over the years. It was such a routine buying them that I had never thought of it.

So I googled for homemade granola bars and went with literally the first result: The 5 Ingredient Granola Bar from Minimalist Baker. I made it once, and they were good, but I came up with some changes to make them much cheaper, and (almost) just as healthy.

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HelloFresh: Cost Per Serving Analysis

If you listen to any podcast, by now you’ve heard of meal kit delivery services. It seems like most podcasts can’t go more than one episode without advertising one of them.

And there are many: Plated, Home Chef, Terra’s Kitchen, Chef’d, Blue Apron, Purple Carrot, Green Blender, Green Chef, Red Kitchen, Orange Chef, Turquoise Lettuce, Violet Toaster… OK, I made up the last four. There certainly are some naming conventions with meal kit deliveries.

Basically, what happens is you sign up for a plan. You pay a certain amount each week, and they send you all the food needed for a couple meals for a certain number of people. They send you exactly as much food as you need. No more, no less, so there is no need for any grocery shopping.

I like to cook, but these services never sounded very appealing. I’m one of those weirdos who likes to go to the grocery store. I like seeing the selection, checking prices, picking the freshest food on display, the whole routine of it.

But there is something appealing about getting just the amount you need for a recipe. How many times have I bought more than I needed, simply because the item doesn’t come in smaller sizes. I have rows of spice containers that only have one teaspoon taken out of them. I’ve wasted more bread than I care to admit, until I finally admitted that I need to freeze the loaf since I never eat more than a few slices in a week.

So when a stranger accidentally sent me a coupon for HelloFresh*, I jumped at the opportunity to try it out. And I needed that coupon…

Because HelloFresh is expensive, guys!

No it’s not

The cheapest plan right now is $59.99 per week, which is three meals for two people, so six meals total. That’s almost $10 a meal. They try to sell you this as, “It’s only $10 a meal! Cheaper than a restaurant!” when all I hear is “$10 per person is waaay more than I have ever paid for a meal I cooked myself!”

They probably assume their customers have no idea how much food costs in terms of meals. So using my admittedly restricted sample size of one week of Hello Fresh, I wondered how much more these meals cost than if I had bought the food at the grocery store. The extra amount paid is your convenience cost for not going to the store, and dealing with the extraneous ingredients, I guess. Continue reading

Cost Per Serving: Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Candied Oranges

Well, it’s the triumphant return of the Ridinkulous series Cost Per Serving!

My god, it’s been three months since the last installment, Chocolate Babka. And what do we have today but yet another chocolate dessert! What does that say about me? That I only eat things made out of chocolate? That may be true. But don’t judge me! You don’t know me!

Today’s recipe comes from Food & Wine magazine. My Great British Bake-Off-inspired run of baking attempts led me to buy a tart dish, and this was my first time using it. If you’re not familiar with a tart dish, its top feature is a removable bottom that allows you to lift the tart out of its pan after its cooked, resulting in a lovely free-standing baked good.

This was also my first time ever “candying” fruit,  so there was a couple new fun things to try.  Here’s the recipe: Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Candied Oranges.

Chocolate Tart with Candied Oranges (1)

Ingredients for Bittersweet Chocolate Tart, oranges candying on the stove

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Cost Per Serving: Chocolate Babka

Recently, Marge and I have really gotten into watching the Great British Bake Off. This is a baking competition show which is oh so very British. I can’t stand for most American reality or competition shows with their manufactured drama and one-dimensional characters. But I go head-over-heels for their foreign counterparts! Amazing Race Canada, Eurovision, and the show we’ve forced all of our friends to watch at one point or another, the spectacular Canadian bounty hunter show Mantracker.

So we’re working our way through every season of the Great British Bake Off. In each episode, the contestants, amateur home cooks, face a different style of baked goods. They must bake one recipe of their own creation, one recipe that is given to them, and one difficult “show-stopper” that meets the requirements given. Needless to say, I leave every episode not only hungry for the food onscreen, but inspired to bake!

One episode recently was all about bread, and one contestant made a chocolate babka. As Seinfeld fanatics, we are very familiar with the chocolate babka from the episode “The Dinner Party.” And recently, some friends from New York City had brought us an unbelievably delicious babka from Brooklyn. So I had babka on my mind to begin with. Watching someone else bake one, I was determined to make one myself!

Chocolate Babka (1)

Ingredients for babka dough

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Cost Per Serving: Homemade Barbeque Sauce

Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to meeee. Happy birthday to me.

Hey everybody. It’s Norm’s birthday today! Whadja get me? Something good I hope! Didja set a place at the table for me, too?  Whatya makin’ for dinner? To celebrate my birthday, every home in America sets a table for me, and even puts a plate of food out in my honor! It doesn’t matter if I’m showing up or not. It’s just to celebrate the holiday! And if I do show up for dinner, you’re all set!

Well, in our house, you get to eat whatever you want on your birthday. For me, the past few years have been fried chicken and hot pastrami sandwiches. For Marge, it’s usually sushi. And this year, I felt like pulled pork with cornbread and coleslaw!  There are some good barbeque joints around here, but I’m being honest when I say that no one makes pulled pork as good as mine. This is just an undeniable fact of life. Mine is the best.  And you can’t have pulled pork without…

Homemade Barbeque Sauce!

Yes, today I’m taking this opportunity to take Cost Per Serving in a different direction. Today we won’t be looking at a meal, but at something you could make at home instead of buying it in a store, and we’ll see how the cost compares.

If you don’t make your own barbeque sauce, this is going to change your life. If you’re buying barbeque sauce at the store, I feel sad for you. I don’t care how fancy the graphics are on the label, no packaged barbeque sauce will be as perfectly seasoned as the one you make yourself. I’ve been making this recipe for almost ten years, and people always compliment it. Let’s see how the cost stacks up…

BBQ Sauce (1)

The finished product

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Cost Per Serving: Vitamin Salad

Hey everybody! It’s another edition of Cost Per Serving, where we figure out how much a meal costs and find its place on the Frugal Deliciousness Spectrum. Today, for the first time we are going to Russia.

Every culture has their version of cheap eats, and like my people, the Irish, the Russians’ staple cheap food is potatoes. A big pot of plain mashed potatoes might be one of the cheapest things you could eat. But I don’t even want to calculate the cost of that, because it would make me depressed… because that’s what terrorists eat.

This recipes mixes the potatoes up with some other root vegetables, peas, and some more Eastern European favorites, sauerkraut and pickles. Let’s see how it shapes up cost wise.

Vitamin Salad (1)

Ingredients for Vitamin Salad

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Cost Per Serving: PB Blueberry Oatmeal

Mmm, breakfast! Who doesn’t like it? Anybody? Anybody?

A few years ago I was making green smoothies for breakfast every day. You know what green smoothies are: Lots of kale or spinach and lots of fruit crammed into one yogurt smoothie. It’s insanely healthy, but it’s also insanely expensive for a food you’re making at home.  So I started having oatmeal every day instead.

I basically eat this recipe every weekday at work. Since I have the day off, I was able to photograph it and bring it to you.  It is really delicious, and pretty frugal, but its true power lies in how filling it is. Oats, peanut butter, milk… Typically, I won’t be hungry for lunch after having this for breakfast.

Ingredients for PB Blueberry Oatmeal

Ingredients for PB Blueberry Oatmeal

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Cost Per Serving: Eggplant Dirty Rice

Hey everyone, before we get into this week’s analysis of a recipe, I have some other food news to report. I need all of you to send your good vibes toward NY because Marge is competing in a big macaroni and cheese cook-off this weekend! She created a new and delicious recipe which I’ll share here next week. And as long as the judges’ taste buds are working, I think it is a shoe-in to win.  She was nominated as one of ten contestants and will be making it for the judges at the contest on Saturday. Good luck, Marge!

This week’s recipe shares some qualities with the rice and beans recipe of two weeks ago. Sub out the black beans with green peppers, and replace mushrooms with eggplant and celery and you’re basically there. The recipe calls for baking at the end so it’s more of a casserole, which I think helps its frugality by inflating those cheap rice grains even more. I think it turned out pretty good.

Eggplant Dirty Rice (3)

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Cost Per Serving: Frugalwoods’ Rice & Beans Plus

Happy Friday! Time for another installment of your favorite recipe cost and flavor ranking series, Cost Per Serving! Today we’ll be looking at the Frugalwoods’ super cheap rice and beans recipe, with one important change!

I cook a lot. Ever since college, I’ve cooked a lot. But that entire time, I don’t think I’ve made rice and beans ONCE. Not once! I know I’ve had it as a side dish made by other people, but when I cook for myself, my mind just never goes there. And I like Latin American food! So when the Frugalwoods’ posted their recipe, I knew I had to try it for myself and see how it stacks up in the ultimate battle of frugal deliciousness!

Rice and Beans Plus (2)

Ingredients for Rice & Beans Plus

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Cost Per Serving: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

I’ve had a craving for the past few days for a classic grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. It probably has to do with the weather. So far this month, it’s gotten above freezing on 8 out of 23 days. Most days the high temperature is around the teens or low 20’s, and some days you wake up and it’s double digits below zero. It’s enough to make you say, “I need something crunchy, creamy, warm and cheesy! I don’t care how much it costs! Give it to me!”

Grilled Cheese (1)

Ingredients for grilled cheese and tomato soup

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